What is a contactless payment and how does it work?

Whether you’re buying that morning coffee, filling up the car, or doing your weekly supermarket shop, using a contactless card or device is a quick, easy and secure way to pay at the cash register. Just a tap is all it takes, and you’re good to go.

Making a contactless payment with a card reader

So, what is contactless payment exactly?

Today, going contactless is the chosen way to pay by more people than ever. And, given the safety concerns surrounding Coronavirus, it’s hardly surprising that the desire to pay without having to swipe or touch a reader should be so prevalent.

So, if you’re new to contactless payment, it’s worth knowing how it could make paying for that next purchase of yours perfectly simple.

A contactless payment, as the name suggests, is a way to pay for something by tapping or waving your card or device over a reader - without having to enter your PIN.

An easier way to pay with Barclaycard

While debit or credit cards are the most common ways to make contactless payments, you can also use your Barclaycard to pay with a mobile phone, smart watch, wristband, key fob or sticker.

For example, if you have an iPhone or Apple watch, it’s easy to link your Barclaycard to the Apple Pay Wallet app. Once you do, you’ll be able to pay using your device, wherever you see the contactless symbol or Apple Pay logo.

How a contactless card works

Contactless cards use radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, which allows the card to communicate with the card reader when it’s held near the reader during a transaction.

As you hold the card near the card reader, it securely authenticates your card information. The merchant’s point of sale system then sends the transaction to the card issuer for analysis and approval. All in all, the whole process should take just a second or two.

How to tell if a card is contactless

Simply look for the wave-like symbol that resembles a Wi-Fi symbol on the front of your card. If you see the contactless symbol, you’re ready to pay with just the touch or wave of your card over the reader. You can also pay using a phone or other device, wherever you see the same contactless symbol on a reader.

Where you can use a contactless card or device

With contactless technology becoming more and more common, you should be able to use your contactless card or device in most places you make transactions, including high street shops, supermarkets, bars, restaurants, cafes and more. On public transport in many cities, like London for instance, you can pay your fare using your contactless card or device too.

It’s now possible to make contactless payments of £100 or less, though the amount may differ depending on the card provider.

As contactless cards and devices don’t require a PIN or signature, by setting a limit on the amount that can be spent in one go, it’s a further way to safeguard your account should your card or device ever fall into the wrong hands.

How to make a contactless payment

It’s a straightforward process, and should take no more than a second or two.

  1. At the checkout, look for the contactless symbol – you should find it on both your card and on the payment terminal
  2. When ready, tap your contactless card or device on the symbol
  3. If your payment is approved, you’ll receive confirmation, and you’re all done.

So what are the benefits of going contactless?

It’s quick and easy

The tap-and-go process only takes a second or two, and means you won’t have to spend time entering your PIN. This makes shopping – and paying – both quicker and easier. Aside from that, it’s also a proven safe way to pay without touching or passing anything over a counter.

It’s safe and secure

Contactless payments are just as secure as making a payment using your PIN. That’s because contactless cards and devices use the same dynamic security features as inserting a chip card – so each time you make a contactless payment, it generates a unique, one-time security code that protects your payment information.

Contactless payments come with extra security measures in place too, like limiting the number of transactions you can make before needing to enter your PIN.

What’s next?

Whether by card, phone or any other device, going contactless is a both quick and convenient. So taking a look at our contactless credit cards today could help get you closer to a much easier way to pay.

Discover our Credit Cards